In a way, your business credit card is like a business card. It usually lists your business name along with your name, and it may even be personalized with your logo.
So what happens when you change your business name? Will your credit card no longer work? Do you have to get a new card? Here’s what you need to know about your business credit card if your business name changes.
Why Would A Business Name Change Take Place?
First let’s take a look at the myriad reasons businesses change their names. Here are just a few:
- The business merges with another business.
- An entrepreneur sells her business and the new owner prefers a different name.
- It changes its focus and a new name better reflects that new positioning.
- There is a need for a new name to avoid brand confusion.
- There is a legal challenge to the current name.
- The business has been associated with negative publicity or controversy.
- It simply wants a brand refresh.
But what happens if your business name on your credit card is different from the new name? How do you change it— and do you need to?
What Happens To Business Credit Cards When A Business Name Changes
Sometimes nothing happens to your business credit card when you change your company’s name. You may be able to simply continue to use your small business credit card as it is. This is typically the case when a business change is minor, or when you get a fictitious name but the main business name remains the same.
However, there are times when you may need to request a replacement credit card with the correct legal name. This often happens when the name change is more serious or permanent.
And there are situations when you may need to close the business credit card account and open a new account. This is most common when the business has a legal name change, and the old name will no longer be used.
Always check with your credit card company first to find out what you need to do. For example, US Bank instructs card holders with business credit cards to contact customer service for a minor name change (two letters or less), or to submit a name change request by fax or mail for changes of more than two letters. Legal documentation is required for name changes.
If you maintain the same business name but add a fictitious name (DBA) you may be able to continue to use the card you have. If you close your business, or reopen under a new business structure because you have formed an LLC or Corporation, you may need to reapply.
Again, your card issuer can instruct you on the steps you need to take.
How To Prevent A Name Change From Affecting Your Credit Score
How a name change will impact your business credit will depend on the types of accounts listed on your business credit reports.
- When it comes to business credit cards, most report to at least one business credit bureau. Find out which business credit cards report to business credit here.
- And most business credit cards don’t appear on consumer credit reports unless you default. Find out which personal credit cards report to business credit here.
If you simply change the name on your business credit card it may not affect your business credit at all. In many cases, the commercial credit bureaus can accommodate a business name change fairly seamlessly.
If your business has an official name change, the business credit report will list the new business name as well as the previous name. It is similar to the way a former name is reflected on an individual’s credit file when they get married, for example.
Here’s what you need to do in terms of contacting the major business credit reporting agencies about a name change:
- Dun & Bradstreet (DNB) does not require business owners notify them of a name change unless there is a change of ownership. If it does, contact Dun and Bradstreet through its website.
- Experian recommends small business owners use its website BusinessCreditFacts.com for report updates if needed. You can search for your business for free. If you see information that needs to be changed you’ll need to verify your identity then submit the change online.
- Equifax does not require a business owner to report a name change provided the business uses the same credit accounts and does not use a different tax ID number. If your business does change tax ID numbers Equifax does not provide a simple way to submit a name change request.
- LexisNexis won’t require your business to report the new name.
6 Steps To Take To Change Your Business Name On Your Business Credit Card
If you do change your business name, here are steps you’ll want to take:
- Notify your state Secretary of State, Department of Corporations, or similar agency with which your business is registered. You may be able to file a fictitious business name (“doing business as”) or you may need to change the business name officially. That agency can provide you with detailed instructions. If you are operating as a sole proprietorship with no legal entity, a fictitious business name may suffice.
- Notify the Internal Revenue Service if necessary. The IRS website has an entire page devoted to name change instructions.
- Identify whether your business needs a new EIN. Again the IRS publishes a helpful guide you can use to determine whether you need a new EIN. You can think of an EIN as the equivalent of your businesses’ Social Security number.
- Notify lenders, vendors and card issuers. If you have business loans or credit cards in the old name of your business, you’ll want to contact those lenders for instructions on how to update your name with them.
- Contact your financial institution to update your business bank account with the new information, if necessary. If you need to change your business checking account you’ll want to order checks with the new name. Don’t forget to update the name on your business debit card as well.
- Update and/or forward your website address and/or social media accounts to reflect the new name.
There may be other steps you need to take such as updating intellectual property registration, property titles or registration, etc. And in some cases you will need to provide legal documentation of your name change, which may include Articles of Amendment, a business license, or other legal documentation verifying the official change.
Nav’s Verdict: Recap
Changing your business name can offer your small business a fresh start. It can give you the opportunity to present a new face to potential customers. But don’t overlook the steps you’ll need to take to retire the old name and ensure you properly use your business name going forward.
This article was originally written on February 8, 2023 and updated on February 22, 2023.